But one of the UK’s most well-known grandmasters has angered women by saying they aren’t smart enough to play the game.
Nigel Short, 49, said women were not suited to playing chess because it required logical thinking.
The chess commentator and writer said women should accept they were ‘hard-wired very differently’ and weren’t as adept at playing chess as men.
Mr Short, who was the first English player to play a World Chess Championship match, made the comments when explaining why there were so few women in competitive chess.
But critics immediately pointed out that he lost a high-profile game against a woman grandmaster. He told New in Chess magazine: ‘Why should [men and women] function in the same way?
‘I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife [Rea] possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do.
‘Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to manoeuvre the car out of our narrow garage.
‘One is not better than the other, we just have different skills. It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.’
His comments mirror those of his rival Garry Kasparov, who infamously said: ‘Women, by their nature, are not exceptional chess players: they are not great fighters.’
Female chess players have reacted angrily to Mr Short’s statements.
This story is an excerpt from a longer article published on The Daily Mail.